Chile launches $650m airport tender

The concession to expand Santiago Airport, which saw 15m passengers last year, is the first big project to be awarded under the Bachelet administration.

Chile’s Ministry of Works (MOP) has launched a long-awaited tender to expand and operate Santiago’s Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport, it was announced in an official notice on Friday.

The concession is the first large-scale project to be auctioned by the administration of Michelle Bachelet, at the helm of the country since March 2014. The prequalification round was originally launched last year but suffered delays due to disagreements between the previous administration and aviation authorities as well as changes in tender rules, aimed at attracting more bidders, when Bachelet took office.

The contract will involve the construction of the airport’s Terminal 2, a new 200,000-square [metre/foot?] facility that will comprise two wings used for both international and domestic flights and two wings solely dedicated to international ones. With a total cost estimated at $646 million, the project aims to prepare the airport for projected traffic of 29 million yearly passengers by 2029 and 50 million passengers per annum by 2045.

The airport posted traffic of about 15 million passengers last year, easily exceeding its original capacity of 9 million. It accounts for nearly 70 percent of Chile’s airport passenger traffic.

The concession, due to run for 15 years, will kick-off as soon as the current one expires in September 2015. Potential bidders reportedly include French airport operator Aéroports de Paris, Germany's Flughafen München and Fraport, Mexico’s GAP, Colombia’s Opain and Argentina's Corporación América. Bids are due by end of September 2014.